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I am on federal probation. Is it legal for me to bring counsel with me when speaking to the probation officer?

San Francisco, CA |

I am on federal probation. Is it legal for me to bring counsel with me when speaking to the probation officer? For example, my probation officer keeps asking me if I have been committing any crimes lately. If I say no, I will get arrested for lying to probation officer and if I say yes, I will get arrested for probation violation. What should I do?

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Attorney answers 4


It is always permissible to bring counsel with you when being questioned by a government agent. Remember you have a 5th amendment right not to incriminate yourself and a 6th amendment right to counsel. Retain an experienced federal criminal defense lawyer immediately and discuss the facts with him in an attorney - client privileged meeting.

Asit S Panwala

Asit S Panwala


I agree with Mr. Butler. You will want counsel with you if your probation officer is asking incriminating questions.


Tell the truth and stay out of trouble. You better call an attorney to review your circumstances.


Yes, it is legal. However, I would very much encourage you to be candid with your probation officer. Asserting the Fifth Amendment in speaking to your probation officer may be a violation of the terms of your probation.


Bring your attorney. I have gone with clients to federal probation meetings for this very reason on occasion. However as a rule I advise my clients never to lie to their probation officer. If revealing a fact is going to be detrimental, consult a lawyer first. If you don't have time, the only correct response is to say "respectfully, I decline to discuss that" or "I would prefer not to answer that at this time." The scrutiny that will invite will probably make you wish you had brought a lawyer with you or at least had one call the probation officer before you went in. Good luck to you. p.s. Just because a probation officer "violates" you does not mean that the government can prove you violated probation. There is often overreach by the USPO because they err on the side of caution and let the judge make the final decision.

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